Make connections on the road

People count on the Internet for information, work and socializing. And when they travel, they want to stay connected. Whether you’re a business traveller toting a laptop or a wanderer on a budget, here’s what you need to know to access Internet services away from home:In hotels:
Hotels that cater to business travellers are equipped with modem-ready phone lines. These are usually the more expensive hotels. And you’ll need to carry your own laptop computer.

Most hotels have special phone lines that do not allow you to connect your laptop to an Internet service provider (ISP). These lines may require operator-assistance to dial out. And phones are often hard-wired into the walls, so the plugs are not accessible.

You will need a modem port (a phone line that is Internet-ready), in order to call your ISP. If you do carry a laptop when you travel, contact your hotel in advance and ask if there is a modem port in your room.

If your clerk does not know what this is, chances are good that they don’t have one. Some large chains have modem ports in nearly all their hotels-but not in every room.

Providers on the road:<b /Remember, if you do not have access to a local ISP, you will have to pay the hotel’s costly long-distance fees. A simple check on your email can cost $20 to 40 dollars. Check for your email and sign off. Then, while you’re offline, compose any replies to be uploaded later.

You can sign up with an international ISP like AOL (, or with a free ISP like NetZero (

Your own ISP may also be connected with a program called iPass ( that allows you to connect for about half the cost of long-distance.

Do a dry run with your laptop, try dialing up from home before you go out on the road.

Free public access:
There are other ways to stay connected without bringing a laptop on your trip. Most major cities offer free public Internet access via terminals in libraries.

And there are abundant commercial access points at cybercafes and kiosks.

You can search for Internet terminals at the Cybercafe Search Engine ( Kinko’s ( offers inexpensive Internet connections from most locations. Some hotels may have a business centre near the lobby that features a connected computer. 

Set up email:
You can set up an email account at Hotmail ( or Yahoo! ( that you can access when you are away from home.

The drawback here is that you will have to notify everyone you correspond with that you have a new and temporary address.

Check out Mail2Web instead ( This free service allows you to check on your email from any place in the world via any web browser. You can be on your laptop, at home, at a cybercafe or library. All you have to do is visit the site, and enter your email address and regular password.

Once you get home, you can connect as usual and any email you do not erase will be uploaded as normal. Keep in mind though, that you will not be able to access any email you may have stored at home in your email reader (such as Outlook Express).

Without a laptop:
If you do decide to travel without your laptop, make a note of the programs, files and documents you require on a regular basis. Make copies on floppy disks and purchase a sturdy carrying case for them.

It is rare that x-ray machines erase files. However, you may pass them to the security guards at the checkpoint at the airport so they are not passed through x-rays. You can also send yourself an email before you go, provided the information is not sensitive.

Protect sensitive files:
If you use Microsoft Word, you can password-protect sensitive files. Open the file, click on “Save-as”, select “Options” and you will see a box that allows you to specify a password.

Once you select a password, Word will prompt you to enter it again. This feature is especially handy if you want to bring along a file of sensitive information like credit card numbers, passwords for email, or private personal information.

Other tips:
Check the Web for information helpful to travelers in your host city. You will find a few hours spent browsing on the web at a search engine like Google ( can save you hours of tedious legwork later on.

If you do bring a laptop and a portable printer, remove the ink cartridge from the printer and carry it in a zip-lock plastic bag. If the toner spills, it will not ruin your printer – or your clothes!